Customer relationship management (CRM) continues to be a popular solution for helping a swamped sales staff stay ahead of deals and customer issues. But it’s also evolving to become the heartbeat of your business’ marketing and outreach as well as a key source and destination point for sales data. A key factor in that evolution has been social media.
Social media is an important customer touchpoint. It’s where customers talk about what what they care about, how they feel, and their opinions on your business. If a customer has a problem with your product or service, they can now let all of their friends and family know about it instantly. Thus, social customer relationship management (social CRM) is crucial for keeping your enterprise or small to midsize business (SMB) accessible, informed, and proactive in engaging with and learning about your customers.
Get the Most From Both Customer Touchpoints
The combination of social media and CRM spells lots of new opportunities for sales personnel looking to connect or marketing professionals seeking to inform. And all of it can happen through your CRM system as long as your social CRM strategy is on target. It’s a key factor of what’s been fueling CRM’s steady growth over the past half decade as this chart from market research firm Statista clearly shows:
CRM Market Revenue, 2016-2021 (in Billions USD)
Social media should be a core component of your business’s CRM plan, but a successful social CRM strategy is about more than racking up likes and followers to drive site traffic. Once you’ve gotten the audience, these seven tips will help your business make the most of the tools it’s using and the data it’s gathering, while turning the immediacy of social media into an asset rather than a liability.
- Invest in the Right Social Tool: Before even incorporating a Social CRM strategy, your business should be managing its social media efforts through a social media analytics tool. The platform you choose will serve as the focal point for scheduling social posts across all active presences, monitoring who’s saying what and to how many people, and interacting with customers. You need a Social CRM tool that can do all of those things (for a price that fits your business) as well as integrate with whatever existing CRM tool you may have. Sprout Social Premium is a great option for advanced analytics capabilities.
- Invest in the Right CRM: Your social media management tool should focus on how your marketing campaigns are doing across your social platform engagements. However, your CRM should have not only the appropriate integration hooks to these social media management platforms, but also CRM-specific social media tools as well, including dashboard, reporting, and clean data collection. Many CRMs, even those designed specifically for small businesses, now have easy-to-use, customer-centric social media tools embedded directly into the CRM. Good examples are HubSpot CRM and our Editors’ Choice winner, Salesforce Essentials.
- Target Relevant Networks: Don’t waste time churning out posts and engaging with followers on a social media platform that’s not core to your business. An e-commerce site might be well-served to post glossy photos of its products on Instagram or Pinterest and interact with customers there whereas an enterprise software company’s customers are more likely to be localized in the traditional trifecta of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. If more and more of your customers are gravitating toward a new social network, that network may be worth monitoring. But your social media manager shouldn’t take hours to respond to a Twitter question because he or she was busy messing around with the Snapchat account your business decided to launch.
- Monitor Interactions and Mentions: Your Social CRM platform should have the ability to set up feeds and streams for each social network and specific parameters within them. In addition to one tracking customers’ direct tweets, comments, and likes, with your presences, set up streams that can monitor keywords such as your company’s name and the primary words associated with what your business does. The moment your company is mentioned or a social network user asks a question about an area of expertise, your business can quickly respond with a helpful answer that could turn a user into a customer or a lukewarm customer into a loyal one.
- Analytics are Your Friend: Once you’ve identified a particular customer, analytics can help you learn more about them. What was the reach of the tweet this user sent out about your product? Have they recently mentioned any competing products and in what context? Send a user’s profile and specific data about them through the CRM pipeline to a marketing or sales representative at your company and analytics could be the key to a customer conversion.
- Group Customers Into Target Audiences: A Social CRM strategy should leverage all of the existing capabilities social networks have to offer. For example, Facebook and LinkedIn have groups while Twitter has lists. This functionality can help you group customers into segments naturally and within the context of the social network that is better suited for targeted interactions about a specific product or products. Social CRM is about using the individuality of a customer’s social persona to tailor smarter business interactions with him or her.
- Social Media Managers Are Real-Time Customer Service Reps: The team who manages your business’s social media presences is your first line of customer service and the ambassadors of your company’s brand. Representatives should respond to a customer’s question on social media within an hour and the conversation should be a genuine interaction rather than a transaction. Don’t be afraid to give out your first name just as a traditional customer service rep would. Depending on the type of business, integrating your social media and customer service teams into a cohesive department could improve both the speed and quality of responses.
- Use Social Incentives to Foster Brand Loyalty: The most loyal, vocal, and active of your company’s social media followers are assets. Building a relationship with these loyal customers and those with the widest social influence can help turn your online presences into communities. Run a hashtag-driven event on Twitter around a particular promotion. Give a @shoutout to the customer who’s been most active in your community this week. Send out discount offers or promotional codes to reward engaged customers. Social media gives businesses more immediate access to a wider array of customers than ever before, and Social CRM is how your business can tap into and make the most out of those connections.
- Don’t Delete Negative Comments: Even if your company’s offerings and customer service are both impeccable, there are sure to be times when customers will have nasty things to say on social media. Some complaints may have more merit than others. With that in mind, the optics of deleting a negative comment can be far more harmful than the comment itself (with the exception, of course, of posts that are highly inappropriate or offensive). If your customers see that you are deleting unpleasant feedback, it could be perceived by them that your company cares more about its online image than helping customers. When it comes to combating negative feedback, always maintain a proactive, professional demeanor.
For more on email marketing strategy, check out this explainerthis explainer written by PCMag.com’s productivity expert, Jill Duffy. And if you have any questions you need answered about social media marketing and CRM, join the PCMag@WorkPCMag@Work business community on LinkedIn, where you can connect directly with vendors, other pros like yourself, and PCMag’s editors.